Waking up in a tea plantation falls into the category: no words to adequately describe it. What an experience! I look out over the tops of the mountains, tea everywhere and the sun is already brightly shining. I hear that my guide and driver are already awake and organizing everything again like two buzzy bees.
I walk downstairs and in the sunshine a table is set with a warm breakfast. Steamed bread with bamboo filling, a warm cup of soy milk and pancake filled with spring onions and an omelet. It has just been delivered. Delicious! And suddenly I am really hungry;) I eat everything greedily and then get my things together.
We are leaving Alishan today but not before we have visited some farmers and I have taken some photographs of the breathtaking view.
We get into the car and I open the window. It is wonderfully warm despite being at 1400 meters and it is only 8:00 in the morning. We descend slowly, stopping once in a while at a farm to taste and to learn their methods. The tea is all lying wilting in the sun before it can be further processed. The weather is good and everywhere is the scent of tea. The fresh, but also quite complex, aroma fills my nose. I sniff and try to memorize it. It smells delicious. I speak to many farmers and everywhere I get a new story. Each has their own method and it also sometimes varies how they pick, pack and the moment of picking. A great deal to learn, thus. I taste tea everywhere and everyone here is so incredibly kind. And then it is time to pluck for an hour. Make myself useful for a while. Since I have so many addresses and areas here in Taiwan I don’t have time to pluck for a whole day.
However, in this hour I remember again, it isn’t easy. I was already pretty worn-out after just an hour! The ladies show me how I should break the stalk and especially how you definitely should not do it. I understand and try to do it as well as possible. Everything is done by hand here and it has to be done extremely accurately.
After an hour my basket is full. This seems like a lot but my colleagues walk back and forth with baskets. I don’t think they would hire me as a tea picker!!
I thank my colleagues and go back into the car. My hands smell of tea bushes. Delicious. We descend further and with every turn I want to ask the driver to stop to take photos. It is just too beautiful. There is too much to see to be able to take it all in and capture in words or pictures. However, we need to be down on time because we are having lunch with the driver’s son.
He works for a very large company and is responsible for the export from Taiwan to Europe so I can really learn about the best way to do that. He wants to hear from me about the codes of conduct in Europe and of course I can help him with that. He has made reservations at an Italian restaurant, at least a Taiwanese who attempts to make calzone. Oh dear. Sweet, but it wasn’t necessary. Calzone with chopsticks is even difficult for them. We talk about the methods, standards and values for an hour. I always enjoy that, extremely educational. The do’s and don’ts in Taiwan are like those of Japan but a bit less strict. We talk and talk about tea while we’re struggling with eating the Calzone with chopsticks. It’s a funny sight. Next time I’ll bring my knife and fork 😉
“This blogpost is about No. 092 – Dong ding”